Excitable cells generate and propagate changes in membrane potentials to encode and transmit information. The resting membrane potential (RMP), determined by selective membrane permeability that generates ionic gradients across the membrane, is a key determinant of such excitability.
Sodium and potassium channels play key roles in cellular physiology, including establishing the RMP and shaping the action potential. Among them, the leak channels for sodium and potassium shape the RMP. We discovered the pore, accessory, and ER-delivery subunits of the sodium leak channel NCA (Yeh et al., 2008; Xie et al. 2013; Gao et al. 2015).
The two-pore potassium channel (K2P) has been proposed to underlie the potassium leak. The C. elegans genome contains 47 putative K2Ps. The electrophysiological property and function for the majority of this exceptionally high number of K2P genes are poorly understood.
We are characterizing ion channels and their physiological roles in regulating neuronal excitability, using a variety of techniques, including electrophysiology, real-time imaging, RNA sequencing, and genome editing.